A significant increase in young people with a pro-European mind-set cast a vote in the 2019 European elections, according to an in-depth Eurobarometer survey across all 28 member states. Conducted in the weeks after the elections, nearly 28.000 citizens throughout the EU answered questions about their participation in the European elections and the issues that motivated them to vote.
The first results of the Eurobarometer survey released by the European Parliament today show that citizens’ support for the European Union remains at its highest level since 1983: Confirming pre-electoral surveys, 68% of respondents (+1 pp compared to Feb/March 2019) say that their country has benefitted from being a member of the EU.
Even more significant for the democratic legitimacy of the EU is the steep increase in European citizens believing that ‘their voice counts in the EU’: 56% of respondents share this view, an increase of 7 points since March 2019 and the highest result since this question was first asked in 2002.
The overall turnout in the 2019 European elections increased by 8 points to 50,6%, resulting in the highest participation since 1994 and the first time that there has been a reversal of turnout in European elections since 1979. The most significant increases in turnout were registered in Poland (+22pp), Romania (+19pp), Spain (+17pp), Austria (+15pp) and Hungary (+14pp).
Survey results suggest that it was Europe’s young and first time voters who drove turnout figures up: 42% of the 16/18-24 year old respondents say they had voted in the European elections, youth participation therefore rising by 50%, compared to the youth turnout of only 28% in 2014. Equally strong was the turnout increase in the age group of 25-39 years, rising by 12 points from 35% to 47%. The turnout of young and first time voters exceeds any turnout increases registered for other age groups.
Voting as civic duty, as pro-European support – and because things could change
Looking at why people voted in 2019, civic duty is most often invoked as the main reason by 52% of voters, an increase of 11 points compared to 2014. Compared to the last European elections in 2014, significantly more citizens have also voted because they are in favour of the EU (25%, +11percentage points), or because they felt they could change things by voting (18%, +6percentage points).
Issues that encourage people to vote
The Eurobarometer post-electoral survey also looked at the issues that propelled citizens to vote in the recent European Parliament elections. The top issues which influenced citizens’ voting decision were economy and growth (44%), climate change (37%) as well as human rights and democracy (37%). With 36% of mentions, ‘the way the EU should be working in the future’ emerged also as top voting motivator for citizens. In 16 countries, respondents cited the economy and growth as the most important voting issue, whilst citizens in eight countries named climate change as the top topic for them.